This is a very strange statement. He says, ‘One who understands the nature of My appearance and activities will be liberated from this birth and death cycle.’ How can it be? He says, ‘Understand my transcendental nature of birthlessness and deathlessness.’ Just now He said he is birthless and deathless. Ajopi — I am birth less. Just now He says, ajo’pi sann avyayātmā bhūtānām īsvaro’pi san. He says, ‘I am birth less and deathless.’
Kṛṣṇa is making this statement in a place where He needs to prove it. He is making this statement in a battlefield, where His life itself is at risk. One arrow is enough to finish His body. Yet He boldly declares, ‘I am God.’ What courage and energy behind His words! It can come only from a solid experience, a deep conscious experience.
Now He says,
‘If you understand the truth of the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities, once you leave the body you will not take birth and death like ordinary humans do. If you understand My transcendental nature, you will also achieve the same transcendental nature.’ ‘If you understand that I don’t take the body, you will not take the body either. If you understand I am liberated, you will realize that you are also liberated.’
How can it be?
We will start with an incident from Bhagavān Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi’s life, an enlightened saint from India. In the presence of Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi, devotees used to sing some songs. There is a song called ‘Ramaṇa SatGuru,’ which means ‘Praising Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi, an enlightened Master.’
When the song is sung, Ramaṇa himself used to sing along with the devotees!
Somebody asked him, ‘What is this?
You are an enlightened person, you yourself are singing your own name. What do you mean by this?’ Bhagavān says, ‘Fool! Why are you reducing Ramaṇa to this six-foot body?’ This is a deep, very subtle thing. He says, ‘I see my body just as you all see it. I don’t associate myself with this name and form. That is the reason why, just like you, I enjoy singing this name.’
An egoistic person, at least in public, will not show that he enjoys praise, because if he does, people will see that he is egoistic. He will never be open. Here, Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi is totally open and straight. He says, ‘Just like you, I enjoy this name and form, because I don’t feel this is me. The name is just getting repeated.
One of Ramaṇa’s disciples, Muruganar wrote ‘Ramaṇa Puranam’. It is the stotra (verses in praise) of Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi. He wrote a few lines and somehow he was not able to write further. So he just brought the paper and put it at the feet of the Master and said, ‘Bhagavān, I am not able to write.’ Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi says, ‘Alright, you go, let us look into it tomorrow.’ The next day when the disciple came back, he saw that the poem was completed.
Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi himself wrote the whole poem and completed it! The disciple was surprised. Bhagavān himself had written his own praises! Later, when the disciple published it, Bhagavān saw that he had put a small footnote: ‘From this line onwards it was written by Bhagavān himself ’, just so that the devotees would know that those particular verses were Bhagavān’s own words.
On seeing the first copy of the book, Ramaṇa Mahaṛṣi turned to the disciple and asked, ‘Oh! Were the other lines written by you then?’ Understand, He asks, ‘Oh! Does it mean that the other lines are all written by you?’ When you wrote all those verses, it was ‘I’ who wrote through you. As such, you cannot think about me or write about Me. What do you know about Me? Unless I express Myself through you, you cannot know anything about Me.’ Only a man who has disappeared into the Divine consciousness can write His poem.
In the Bhāgavatam (life history of Lord Kṛṣṇa,) Kṛṣṇa Himself sings, ‘I am the Lord,’ just like how He now says — bhūtānām īsvaro’pi. This words are so beautiful: bhūtānām īsvaro’pi — I am the Lord of all living beings!
A mere cowherd boy from Briṇdavan says this! You should not look at Kṛṣṇa from today’s perspective. You should understand the whole scene as it happened, on the battlefield at Kurukṣetra. Now, because of time, we have accepted Kṛṣṇa as God. But this was said when He was alive, when people could not accept him as God. When Rāma was walking on planet Earth, only the Saptaṛṣis (the energy of seven sages that controls the world) knew He is an Incarnation. Similarly, when Kṛṣṇa was alive in his body, very few people recognized who He is. At least Rāma lived a controlled life; he is easy for people to accept. But Kṛṣṇa lived such an ecstatic and spontaneous life, it is very difficult to realize who He is!
For a so-called religious person, it is very difficult to realize and understand Kṛṣṇa. But He says, bhūtānām īsvaro’pi – I am the Lord of all living entities. Somebody asks Ramaṇa, ‘Why are you expressing your own glory?’ Bhagavān says, ‘If I don’t speak about myself, you can never understand me. Unless I reveal, you can never realize me. Just out of my compassion, I express the truth, I express myself.’
It is like this: You are caught in a traffic jam on the road. You ring up and ask your friend who is traveling ahead of you on the same road, ‘How is it there? Is there a traffic jam? Can I come by the same road or should I take some other road?’
Will he not have the simple courtesy to guide you?
With the same basic courtesy, Kṛṣṇa is revealing His truth to all of us. Here, when He says, ‘I am God, I am the Ultimate,’ He says there is a possibility, ‘When I can achieve, why can’t you?’ He shows the space of possibility, He gives us the courage of authenticity, He encourages us. Here He says, ‘When I can achieve, why can’t you?’
It is like a seed is always afraid of rupturing to become a tree. The seed always feels, ‘If I break and the tree doesn’t happen, then what will happen? I will die.’ But the tree tells the seed, ‘Unless you open, I cannot happen.’ The seed says, ‘No, let the tree happen, then I will open.’ But the tree says, ‘No, no, first you have to open, only then I can happen.’ The problem between the tree and the seed continues endlessly.
It is necessary for somebody to give a little courage to the seed. A tree that was a seed once can say, ‘Be courageous. Be authentic to your highest possibility. Don’t worry. You will never perish. Open. Just like me you will become a tree.’ In the same way, Kṛṣṇa gives courage of authenticity to us, ‘You can also become God, like Me. You can also experience the truth like Me.’
With enlightened people, when they say ‘God’, it is based on solid experience and when they say ‘I,’ it has no meaning.
Please listen! Inside the seed, if life is not happening, the tree won’t come out. Inside the seed, life has to happen, the tree has to come out! Inside your body, authenticity has to happen, enlightenment has to come out! Inside your body, if authenticity is not happening, the completion, fulfillment, enlightenment, won’t come out. Add authenticity to your thinking in every step. If life is not continuing to happen in the seed, it is not a seed, it is dead! If authenticity is not continuously happening in you, you are not a possibility, you are dead! Constantly make authenticity happen in you, in your work, in your thinking, in your health!
Defining yourself to you should be done with life, with authenticity.
If the seed defines itself saying, ‘I am a seed. I cannot do anything. Ah, my life is over!’, it is dead!
If the seed decides to be authentic and say, ‘No, today I will at least just break my shell, I will sprout one small leaf. Now, let me make my second leaf!’ Then life is happening! Our huge banyan tree seed also would have had this dilemma when it was breaking! Because it decided to break and become a tree, today it is standing as a kalpavṛkṣa, a wish-fulfilling tree!
When Kṛṣṇa says, ‘I am the Ultimate,’ He expresses the space of possibility. He reminds us of our potentiality. He enriches us to define ourselves with authenticity as He defines Himself. He inspires us to enter the same consciousness, to experience the same bliss. When Kṛṣṇa reveals this truth, be very clear, Kṛṣṇa is not egoistic. He is expressing His true nature out of basic courtesy to His fellow travelers. The senior tree encourages the junior seed to open up and become a tree. The tree assures the seed. It says, ‘Don’t worry, I have become a tree. You can also become like me. You don’t have to feel you will disappear.’ It is an assurance.
A small banyan tree seed is a huge tree in the form of possibility. In the same way, you are God in the form of possibility! You are the seed for God in the form of possibility! Just as how the banyan seed is a possibility for banyan tree; you are a possibility for God Himself! That is why again and again I tell you, when Kṛṣṇa tells us ‘I am God’, He means, ‘You too are God.’ He gives you the courage of authenticity.
Understand, when Enlightened Masters say ‘I’, they don’t have any meaning behind that ‘I’. Only divinity speaks. For you, the word ‘God’ is just a word with no solid meaning. But when you say ‘I,’ you attribute a solid meaning, a solid identity to it, which is supported by solid experience. You know it. You feel it. If somebody asks, ‘Are you mad?’ you shout at them and prove it! But when you say ‘God’, your understanding is not supported by any experience. With enlightened people, when they say ‘God’, it is based on solid experience and when they say ‘I,’ it has no meaning.
Somebody went to a great Enlightened Master, Nisargadatta Maharaj in India and asked him, ‘Master, you say enlightened people don’t have karma. But how can you speak? How can you do all your activities if you don’t have karma?’
He said, ‘I am not doing anything!’ The disciple asked, ‘No, you are speaking to me. How can you speak to me if you don’t have karma?’ Nisargadatta Maharaj said straightaway, ‘I am not speaking to you!’ He was speaking and yet he said, ‘I am not speaking to you.’ It is very difficult to understand!
He continues, ‘Because you wanted me to speak, the speaking is happening through this body. There is nobody inside.’ He was just like a hollow bamboo. When a breeze enters a hollow bamboo, it comes out as music. There is nobody inside. That is why whatever goes in comes out as music.
When you become a hollow bamboo, whatever words come out of your mouth become mantra, sacred syllables. Your form becomes yantra, the tool of liberation, and your whole life becomes tantra, a technique for liberation. Your words are śāstras, scriptures. Your form is the center for stotras, devotional prayers. And your very life is the sūtra, the technique.
Here, when Kṛṣṇa says, ‘I,’ there is just the Divine that is speaking. There is nobody inside. It is pure emptiness. Just the Divine, the pure Existence speaks through Him. He has become a hollow bamboo. That is why He can courageously declare in a battlefield, bhūtānām īsvaro’pi — I am the Lord of all beings. Sitting comfortably at home where you have all the security and protection and declaring ‘I am God’ is very easy, because there is nothing to risk. You don’t need to prove anything. But Kṛṣṇa is making this statement in a place where He needs to prove it. He is making this statement in a battlefield, where His life itself is at risk. One arrow is enough to finish His body. Yet He boldly declares, ‘I am God.’ What courage and energy behind His words! It can come only from a solid experience, a deep conscious experience.